My Windex Epiphany – Aircraft Window Cleaning

August 7, 2012 | bevel wise


For most aviators, a terrible day usually starts when the clouds roll in; slowly at first, until the entire airport is covered in a milky white sea of frustration. The day is not lost for all however, as hangers and FBO’s are abuzz with typical “hanger talk” and some, seizing the opportunity of the day, take to repairing technical issues and or cleaning the bugs off the windscreen from their last adventure.


As aircraft detailers, our day typically fills up when the weather turns sour; our “adventure” is earth bound, dancing between FBO’s and hangers, and keeping pace with the day’s appointments. In fact, we’re scheduled to take care of a Cirrus SR-22 at 1200 and a Gulfstream G-550 at 1700; unfortunately, both are itching for attention thanks to the recent (and still in progress) acid rain storm plaguing the area.

But today is different, as we pull next to a hanger where a man is cleaning his windscreen (ominous I know right?). So prideful, he waves us over to marvel at his work, and it’s true, his ability to leave a streak free shine is simply breathtaking; however, to our horror, we find him using Windex and paper towels. we immediately stop and ask:

“Um, are you sure you’re using the right stuff on that?”
“Yeah of course I am, been using it for years!

Curiously, we ask him about his experience with his choice of “product” to which he replied that under a tight budget he doesn’t have the money to buy “all that fancy stuff.” Who could blame him? With rising fuel prices, everyone’s looking for ways to save but after looking over his windscreen, I can see tell tell signs of crazing.

Unfortunately, what has happened to his windscreen was avoidable.

It’s surprising to learn that windscreens (and aircraft windows in general) can be damaged fairly easily by many products and tools that claim to be “Multi-Surface”. However, aviation “glass” products such as polycarbonates, Lexan, Acrylic, etc are generally either too “soft” or are covered in special coatings that protect against the environment.